Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – July 23, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – July 23, 2004 – There is nothing more engaging than a terrific smile, and the most important component of a lovely smile are the teeth. Some people are born with great teeth. My sister-in-law, Dorothy is a prime example. She has perfect pearly whites, and I may be wrong, but I don’t think she’s ever had a cavity.
Her smile is open, warm and inviting. To those of us not naturally blessed with a Crest smile – this can be extremely annoying. However I digress.
My gene pool was not a transmitter of wonderful teeth. Both my parents had soft enamel on their teeth, making them prone to wear and decay. Quite naturally, this characteristic was passed along to their children. My second set of front teeth grew in crooked and I had to have my teeth straightened when I was in late public school and the first year of high school.
When my retainer was finally a thing of the past I had quite a passable smile. My trips to the orthodontist had been an expensive venture for my parents and you can only imagine their dismay when I went out on a snow-mobile date one winter night when I was sixteen, flew off the snow mobile and did a face plant into the trunk of a tree.
Two of my front teeth were missing in action, two were broken off just below the gum line and I had black eyes, a swollen nose and a number of abrasions of my face, caused by the bark of the tree. Not a pretty picture.
I was in the dentist’s office the next day for an assessment. I had to wait a week or so for the swelling to go down and then the two broken teeth were extracted and I was fitted with a partial plate. It’s intriguing to see how charming little kids look with their front teeth missing – not so with a sixteen year old. I had impressions made of my upper and lower teeth and then I had to wait another few days for the lab to make the partial plate, and then “bingo” – I had a magazine smile again! I had that plate for about four years and once I was an adult, I was fitted for a bridge.
Fast forward to my fortieth year and the veneers on the existing bridge had to replaced – fast forward again and it’s time to replace the entire bridge. What, you may ask does this entail? Funny thing – that’s exactly what I asked my long-time dentist Peter. Well, he said, first we’ll make impressions of your upper and lower teeth to create a model for the lab to work with, then we’ll bleach your teeth, then we’ll make a temporary bridge and then we’ll cut the existing one out of your mouth (I expected him to say with a blow torch) and finally fit you with the new one. It’ll take about three months and cost about $12,000 more or less. “Wow”, I said, “Lucky me!”
I had the mould made first. Peter was away sick that day and his dental hygienist, the lovely Elizabeth, did the honours for me. Open mouth – insert two trays filled with goo – close mouth. Wait eight minutes. Open mouth again – remove trays one at a time. Sounds easy enough. I thought Elizabeth (formerly described as lovely – now transformed into a cruel, demented fiend bent on causing me excruciating pain) was going to take my head off. I had visions of walking away with no teeth at all, the upper and lowers having been plucked out along with the steel trays.
I know why Peter stayed away from the clinic that day – he was afraid of confronting a toothless, menopausal woman intent solely on his demise. Now it was on to “Bleaching 101” – how exciting. Now I know why George Washington simply whittled some teeth out of the stump of a cherry tree, painted them white and glued then into his mouth. It was easier than this! Week one of bleaching was okay. During week two, a pestilence of troublesome consequence was visited upon me in the guise of gum blisters. Weeks three and four weren’t too bad, and now I’m half way done. The only reminder of the process are the shooting pains that run through my lower teeth without warning. My nerve endings seem to be a little agitated. Imagine!
Yesterday was the day set for the “Extraction” – a five hour dental appointment during which the existing bridge was cut and then removed from my mouth. Peter wanted to take a picture of the before and after – thankfully the battery in his digital camera was kaput. I had visions of that mug shot showing up on my web-site, just in time for Halloween. I looked fondly at the teeth on that old bridge and thought about all the smiles they had shared with people over the years.
Then I tossed it back on to the tray. I was on to bigger and better things. I won’t bore you with the details, suffice to say -by six o’clock the temporary bridge had been “cemented” into my mouth. Now doesn’t that bring up images of Marlon Brando as The Godfather looking at some poor slob in a cement coffin. Peter assured me this was soft cement, not the perma-bond he’ll use for the finished product.
My jaws were aching and my face was so frozen from anaesthetic that I couldn’t smile but I managed to pry my upper lip away from my teeth to get a look at the new chompers. Peter gave me a pain killer and I floated home to wait for the freezing to come out of my mouth. Finally this morning I got a good look at the temporary bridge.
My first thought was, “I could go out to my garden and mow down the flowering dogwood in about thirty seconds flat. The hornbeam wouldn’t be safe either”. These teeth would do a beaver proud. My teeth should be on the Canadian nickel. They are of mammoth proportions – I’m no longer a woman – I’m simply a host for these jumbo teeth.
I’ve been assured by Peter that the final permanent bridge will be thinner, whiter, finely tuned and form fitting and that I’ll be thrilled with the outcome. I really hope Peter understands that you just don’t mess with a woman’s hair or her teeth. These aren’t subjects to be taken lightly. I’m counting on remaining a woman of genteel demeanor, witty repartee, generous nature and dazzling smiles. Oh, and world peace may be just around the corner, and when it comes, at least I’ll have teeth!